Art Gallery – Six Modern Bijin Artists You Should Follow

Bijin-ga (美人画) literally means “picture of beautiful person”. They originate in the woodblock prints of the Edo era, and typically depicted beautiful women from various walks of life – from everyday women doing everyday things to famous courtesans reclining in luxurious surroundings. Many famous artists produced bijin-ga prints; some of the most well-known being Utagawa Kunisada, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Around the transitional period from late Meiji through Taisho into early Showa era, artists such as Jun’ichi Nakahara, Yumeji Takehisa, and Katsuji Matsumoto‘s modern styles made an enormous impact on traditional bijin-ga and produced works that helped form the flowery, large-eyed shoujo manga aesthetic as we know it.

With the advent of more modern printing technologies and digital painting, art has become more accessible than ever before. There are incredible modern artists out there today producing breathtaking works that continue to challenge the way we think of traditional Japanese art of gorgeous women. These are the sorts of artists I’m going to focus on. I urge you to check out their galleries, follow them on social media, and buy their prints to support them if you can.

While these featured artists are all incredibly versatile and do portraits of women in kimono and modern clothes as well as floral studies and still-lifes, I chose to focus on kimono-clad beauties to keep with the spirit of bijin-ga.

This entry will be long and image-heavy, so please click through to keep reading! Continue reading

Art Gallery – Rilakkuma & Friends


There are a number of Rilakkuma cafés spreading across parts of Asia, and on their coasters is this absolutely charming little drawing of Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori in furisode-style kimono. The first time I saw it, I knew I wanted to make a little drawing based off of it, because it was just too cute. I ended up making this sort of quilted-style illustration and I think it turned out really well.

Now, I realise Rilakkuma is supposedly a boy bear, and putting him in a pink furisode seems a bit odd, but I figured since the original illustration had all three of them in furisode with female-type dressing and accessories, I’d just run with it. I’m glad I did, because this is so adorable it’s kind of making my teeth hurt. I’m quite happy with the end result.

If you’d like a print of this goofy little drawing, you can always click here to buy one from my Society6 shop. You get art, I get a few dollars to help defray the costs of this blog. Everyone wins!

Lastly, a quick note; for the next week or two, I will likely not be changing the mannequin. I’m in the throes of a nasty sciatica flare-up and it’s making it difficult to stand, let alone do something like wrestle with kimono. I’ve got lots of other fun things to share with you all in the meantime, and I appreciate your patience and understanding in advance.

Art Gallery – Sakura Valentine

Sakura Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! I had grand plans to do a really sweet, romantic coordination on the mannequin but that went awry as plans are wont to do. I still wanted to share something though, since I love you all so much for continuing to support me. I’ve been working on this illustration for a while now. Initially I was going to share it during cherry blossom season, but the pink floral theme seemed perfect for a Valentine. It’s not much, but it sure is pretty, and I hope you like it!

I’ve also set up a shop on Society6 with some prints of the occasional artwork I do and share here, including this one. I get a few dollars from each one sold, all of which will go back into the fund to help support the blog.

Art Gallery – Inktober Compilation

 

Inktober is an interesting initiative to try to encourage people to get out the old traditional media and be creative. For every day during the month of October, the goal is to produce one ink drawing. There are lists of prompts, but you can also choose to work off your own designs if you wish. It’s been quite a while since I did any real-media work so I thought this year I would participate, but rather than use the official prompts, I’d draw one kimono motif a day. I had a lot of fun doing this, and I think I might make it a yearly tradition. Maybe next year I’ll pick one common motif and draw a different variation of it each day. I’m certain I could find thirty-one ways to interpret sakura or ume, for example.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen these already, but I really wanted to put them all together for posterity and reference. I really love the variety in these. Some of them were clearly done on days when I had more free time than others but when you put them all together I feel like they flow very nicely. I think forcing myself to stick to two widths of black ink pen and only gold accents helped make sure that they really do feel like one cohesive project instead of just a pile of unrelated doodles. They’re also all in the same sketchbook on the same paper, the variations in colour are due to lighting differences and instagram filters.

Art Gallery – Yukata Cutie by Nikki R

Check out this utterly adorable drawing of my recent yukata outfit! It was drawn by my friend Nikki, who draws all sorts of awesome comic, pin-up, and stylised artwork. This chubby little caricature style is probably my favourite, though, and I’ve loved watching her artwork evolve over the years.

I’m amazed by how much detail she managed to fit in to such a tiny and cartoony piece. It’s super accurate without feeling cluttered or busy. She even got the ume kanzashi on my hat and the little obi-kazari down pat. For someone not in the habit of drawing kimono-related artwork, she did a fantastic job of getting the details spot-on!

The artist’s going through a bit of a rough spot financially right now, and she deserves all the best. So if you love this style as much as I do and would like one for yourself, please check out Nikki R Illustration on Facebook! Also, I always love seeing how different artists interpret my coordinations so if you’re an artist taking commissions and are interested in giving it a shot, please don’t hesitate to contact me.